Is it really possible, can food affect your mood? The simple answer is yes. And what can further exacerbate this is that our mood can influence what we chose to eat and drink. As you can see, this can quickly turn into a downwards spiral of poor food choices and bad moods.
So how can we avoid this? Well, for starters we need to know how exactly food affects our mood and which foods to avoid to prevent symptoms of anxiety, depression or just irritability.
Causes Of Mood Altering Foods
Many foods either have a positive or negative effect on our mood. So what are some of the foods that have a negative effect of mood?
- Sugar – Probably the most commonly linked to causing negative effects on mood. Fluctuations in blood sugar greatly affect our moods and energy levels. We get energy highs after eating sugar, but then come the demoralizing lows.
- Artificial sweeteners & colors – The brain can also react in mood altering ways when we eat either of these as the body does not know how to process them. These are very common ingredients in diet sodas, aspartame in particular can cause serious issues in your brain. Not uncommon side effects of aspartame can be depression and panic attacks.
- Dairy – If we have a lack of the enzymes required to digest a certain food, our moods can also change for the negative. A common example of this is an inability to digest lactose and found in dairy products.
- Caffeine – While a coffee here and there can do good things for your mood, too much caffeine can make you anxious or nervous as it is a behavior altering substance. If you suffer from anxiety try cutting coffee out of your diet and see if you notice any improvements.
Food allergies can also be a cause of food changing moods. Some of us can become sensitive to foods caused by delayed food allergies that we are completely unaware of. Sometimes we don’t see the effects of an allergy on our body for months or even years! Talk to your healthcare professional about whether you can be tested for food allergies or undertake an elimination diet to start to discover what makes your body thrive and what doesn’t.
How To Use What We Eat To Benefit Our Moods
First thing would be to avoid the foods that negatively affect your mood. Try to avoid added sugars and chemical additives and eat whole foods whenever possible. Most packaged foods, junk food, sodas, and fruit drinks have potential to cause a problem. It’s always best to make your meals based around fresh vegetables and have protein. Protein helps slow the absorption rate of carbohydrates in your blood which not only keeps you satisfied for longer but helps to level out your blood sugar and possibly your mood. Try chicken, fish, eggs, and tofu.
You could also try supplementing your diet with vitamin D as it can be really helpful in boosting your mood. Vitamin D can also help ease depression especially in those winter months when the sun isn’t around often and this vitamin is lacking.
Another tip is to eat breakfast. Leaving home in the morning without adequate fuel for the day can cause your mood to change for the worse. We all know someone who turns into a crazy person when hungry (think Snickers commercials). So make sure you have healthy snacks with you to help maintain your blood sugar levels and avoid sugar spikes or lows. This should also help maintaining your mood.
Finally, try to avoid alcohol as it is a depressant and can have many negative effects on your mood. Try cutting it out of your diet for a period of time and see how you feel.
If none of the above seem to help I would suggest going to see your doctor, naturopath, or wellness coach for further advice. They can help you get on track and give you some personalized advice.
What has been your experiences with food altering your mood? And what worked best for you?